Budgeting is a skill, but sometimes it seems easier to budget for real-world purchases like groceries than it does for digital buys. Google wants to help Android users stick to their budgets and avoid wallet-busting surprises.
Google recently introduced a new Play Store budgeting feature that lets you put a monthly limit on app and digital media purchases. The feature is arriving quietly, so it’s a bit under the radar.
The budgeting option is worth implementing, especially if you have a tendency to rack up purchases without thinking about it. Nobody likes that kind of surprise on a credit card statement. This will help you get a handle on your digital spending.
Turn on Google Play budget option
If you want to use this new feature, open up the Google Play Store app on your Android device. Then, tap the three small horizontal lines in the corner to open the app menu. Tap Account and then Purchase History. This is where you can see purchases you’ve made through the Play Store, which may be a sobering experience. Tap “Set budget” and select an amount. Tap “save” to finish.
Note: If you follow these instructions and you only see an “Order History” option, you don’t yet have the choice to set a budget. The feature is still rolling out to Android devices, so it may just be a matter of time before it’s available to you.
You can return later to the same Purchase History spot in the menu to adjust or remove your budget.
How Google Play budget works
The budget amount applies to everything you can buy through Google Play, including apps, movies, TV shows, games and books. The budget you set can only be in the currency of the country your profile is set to. This most likely means your budget will be in U.S. dollars. The budget resets monthly.
Budgeting in the Play Store still requires some willpower. Every time you make a purchase, the Play app will let you know if you’re closing in on or exceeding your budget limit, but it won’t prevent you from making a purchase.
It’s more like having a helpful friend say, “Hey, do you really need that? You’re about to go over budget. Why don’t you think about it or wait until next month.” It’s up to you to make the final decision.
How to choose a digital budget for Google Play
Budgeting for digital purposes should be just one cog in your overall budget. What’s sneaky about this is how an app here and a game there can quietly add up over time.
You might think about Google Play fun money as a part of your monthly entertainment budget. For example, if you allow $100 for going to the movies or buying video games, you might allocate $30 of that to Google Play, or more if you tend to stay in and stream or play Android games rather than going out.
Advice that applies to real-world purchases also works well for digital ones. Ask yourself why you want something, if the enjoyment will justify the cost. Are you buying because you feel bored? Maybe it’s time to revisit an old favorite show or game or app instead. You can always sleep on it and make the buying decision the next day.
Budgets are very individual, but awareness is a big part of the battle. That’s why Google’s new budget feature could really be helpful to a lot of people. It might not stop you from making purchases, but it will keep your budget at the top of your mind.